Beings are exposed to an analog, changing environment. Pressure, temperature, light, the passage of elements in and out of the system, the bombardment of sonic radiation and magnetic fields strike every living and non-living being.
These incoming fields of information hit organic molecules and change them from one state to another. The change in the molecule is a digital one. It flips between position A or B, not A and a half.
Cells perceive by interpreting the field of changes in the whole array of thousands of organic molecules comprising their form. They compare the cumulative, analogue state of molecular signals with pre-existing states and, when they detect a certain kind of change (more molecules in state A than B), they react by generating a digital, electronic pulse.
Multicellular beings perceive by interpreting the analogue field of communications of thousands of cells (passing through various levels of interpretation and response depending on the sophistication of the creature). They respond by sending out signals to other beings around them, changing state from quiet to making sound, motionless to moving.
Societies perceive by interpreting the field of communications of the individuals making it up and change from one state to another (relaxed and peaceful, agitated and aggressive).
Although the method of perception, memory and reaction differs through the various levels of existence, the content being considered remains linked to the original perceived event.
As the information about an event is passed from layer to layer, the viewpoint of that event expands to include more and more context.
A single cell is aware of a shift in light intensity.
The information from millions of eye cells from one eye results in an image of the world in front of the viewer, revealing the change in light intensity to be, for example, part of the head of a sea snake.
The view from both eyes forms a three-dimensional view of the sea snake moving towards the viewer.
The final, highly complex and accurate model of the world around and within the viewer then enables it to compare this image with previous experience or genetic memory and respond accordingly.
The finished mental model is far more sophisticated and contains much more information than any one cell could possibly imagine.
On a different scale, science is built up of millions of observations of individual people. The final model of the world perceived by the entire scientific establishment is far more complex than any one individual can perceive alone.
The analog - digital - analog sequence extends beyond the process controlling mind. It is a universal phenomenon.
A digital being is an analogue event comprised of billions of individual focal points of behavior. Together, they generate a single, larger entity.
The number of cells in our body are so great they are like grains of sand on a beach, an analog number that is constantly changing as cells divide and die.
But the result of the cells is a single human being (a digit).
We can never calculate the exact number of molecules in a cell but together, the behavior of all the molecules create a digital, single self.
Cell types, plant and animal species and ecosystems are digital, whole patterns of communications. There are a set number of these and they can be counted. But they are composed of statistical, always changing, analogue populations of smaller beings.
There are some 20 different types of coral cells, and these are not noticeably different from one kind of coral to another, even if they separated from each other, genetically, millions of years ago.
Coral species number about 2,500 different formats built by the twenty different sorts of cells that follow the basic cell concept.
Each living molecule, every cell, each polyp, all individual coral colonies and every coral reef is a unique, individually identifiable being, each with its own particular behavior pattern adjusted (as best as it can manage) to the environmental conditions surrounding it.
But the sub-elements comprising these individuals are analog numbers, changing smoothly as millions of entities are born or die on all the various levels of existence.
Individuals (digital) are either there, or not there. They are born and they die with abrupt and definitive (0 or 1) finality. Populations are analog, although they, too can dwindle away and finally die. The size of the population changes in a smooth curve, it can be divided into halves, quarters, tenths. Or, like the human population, increasing in an exponential curve towards catastrophy.
The elements of the sea pass through the coral tissues in about 48 hours, the number of elements changing in an analog way. The individual cells comprising the coral tissues change within a couple of months (some of them divide to make new cells and it could be argued these are still there after two months, although their constituent atoms would be different).
On a longer time scale, individual coral colonies live and die, as do the other individual plants and animals of the 15 phyla represented on a coral reef. But the coral reef persists for thousands, if not millions, of years.
The individual coral colony (or the coral cell or the coral reef) is a digital concept, but it is created by an analog web of communications.
The webs of communications are analogue, but the information flowing through them is digital.
The analogue relationships persist, the digital relationships, like individuals and information, appears and disappears. With the appearance and disappearance of information, new knots appear in the webs of communications, new digital beings. These then generate entirely new and different analogue webs of communication.
A fractal curve is a mathematical representation of this phenomenon. We calculate single digital points by solving the equation again and again. When these points are viewed together they form a strikingly complex analogue pattern which shows infinite detail depending on how many times the equation is solved and how closely we examine any part of it.
This process is exactly the same for a coral species as for the electron shell around an atom. The electron is thought to appear and vanish within a specific zone. The shell is the analogue communication web - it stays there - the electron is the digital information resulting in a digital + or - charge that varies infinitely with distance from another charge. Changes in valence states of atoms link electrons with other atoms to form molecular relationships. The molecules are new digital knots creating whole new analogue fields of intercommunications.
The whole entity and the parts making it up are manifested together as a result of the interaction of the process of perception, memory, and reaction with the environment surrounding it.
The whole mental image and the perceptions making it up are manifested together as the interaction of perception, memory, and reaction.
The whole population and the beings making it up are manifested together as a result of the interaction of the process of to be, to change, to have direction.